Monthly Archives: October 2013

The kind of publicity Rene Villa, et al want

“What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”

By Alex P. Vidal

If we think Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Chairman Rene Villa is embarrassed by latest report that he had professional links with jailed bogus NGO organizer Janet Lim-Napoles, we can be dead wrong.
Villa, who could not win a congressional seat as long as the Defensor father and son — Iloilo Gov. Arthur Sr. and Rep. Arthur “Toto” Jr. — are lording over the third district of Iloilo, must be enjoying the kind of publicity he has been reaping in the national media these past days.
Touted as one of the most brilliant Ilonggo lawyers to ever serve the cabinet during the time of President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; and now in the cabinet of President Nonoy Aquino, Villa’s admission that he once served as Napoles’ lawyer and financial adviser is not actually a mortal sin.


Nobody gets jailed or stripped of his dignity for counseling a charlatan in the past. Nobody loses his job for waltzing with a Madame Bovary or a Lady Chatterley. Any politician worth his salt in Villa’s shoes today would prance around the paddock if given the same opportunity to expound on his ties with a high profile inmate in national media.
The kind of publicity that Villa is enjoying in the Napoles l’affaire is the kind of publicity that most politicians want–and need!
Notwithstanding the eerie tag and freakish notoriety attached to her name, Napoles can still be considered now as a celebrity in her own right–and a national figure to boot.
To be linked to Napoles in a not-so-scandalous fashion isn’t an outright kiss of death. It may, a little bit, dampen a public servant’s bid for an Order of Sikatuna award, but not his political career.


In a country where popularity is convertible to elective government post, the more you are mentioned in media–and the controversy you are embroiled with is endlessly tackled in prime time and headline news, the more that your name-recall edge will be amplified and sharpened. Voters will easily remember you during election period whether you belong in the reel or real world.
It is easy to decipher if Villa detested the Napoles link publicity. If he refused to elaborate further, that means he was uncomfortable in the “hot seat” he was in. But if he was willing to talk and share willingly what he knew and in the mood to flash his brilliancy in the Q and A arena, you can bet he was in the joy ride.


The late former House Speaker Jose M. Aldeguer (Nacionalista Party, Iloilo 5th district) would reportedly pay radio block time talents to lambast him on air. Aldeguer believed that if no one was attacking him as a public official, he was not doing his job; that means he was lousy and irrelevant.
The late former Senator and Iloilo City Mayor Rodolfo “Roding” T. Ganzon considered bad publicity and criticism as “good” if leveled against a politician.
“They (my political opponents and media) can say anything they want under the sun against me as a public servant. I will not complain. Basta indi lang sila mag alegar nga putyong ako because only my wife has the right to say that,” enthused Ganzon, the “Stormy Petrel of the South.”
Fans and admirers of Chairman Rene Villa should relax and enjoy the show.

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Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Uncategorized


I’ll write a speech for you in heaven, sir Ed

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” J.K. Rowling

By Alex P. Vidal

Eduardo “Edddie” G. Laczi was already a household name in the 80’s and Ilonggos fell in love with his advocacy in his pro-poor “Ikaw Kabuhi Ko” program on Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) TV-12 where he was station manager during the Marcos era.
I had the opportunity to serve briefly the late very popular broadcast media personality not during his salad days in the now sequestered IBC TV-12, but during his stint at the Iloilo City Council in the early 90s.
It was then Vice Mayor Dr. Guillermo “Doc Guiling” dela Llana who “hired” me with a specific task to write speeches for the two city bigwigs very dear to him: Laczi and Atty. Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III, now the incumbent vice mayor of Iloilo City.
I was initially hesitant to accept the job since it would mean a conflict of interest, being one of the founding officers of the Iloilo City Hall Press Corps (ICHPC) in 1993. But after Doc Guiling explained the parameters of my tasks for the two aldermen, we inked the deal.
Because both Laczi and Espinosa III chaired powerful committees and needed to collaborate with Dela Llana on the legislative branch’s budget and appropriations, their hands were full. They were also active officers of private organizations engaged in charity works and community assistance–Laczi with the Lions Club and Espinosa III with the Rotary Club.


I ended up writing their speeches for these clubs, among their other private duties and functions, and helping their staff draft resolutions and ordinances.
Despite wearing two hats at the same time, I did not renege on my obligation as a journalist. When the Royal London Circus controversy erupted in 1993, I joined my fellow beat reporters in writing critical articles and lambasted the entire members of the city council — including Vice Mayor Dela Llana, Laczi and Espinosa.
We thought it was a moral obligation to inform the public that the city government did not benefit when the local legislature approved a resolution giving tax breaks for the globetrotting international performers who amassed gargantuan profits in entertaining the Ilonggos for several weeks at the vacant space of the Iloilo Diversion Road.
The furor created a whirlpool of disgust and disenchantment between media and city officials; and, for a while, seared their otherwise cordial relationship.


Instead of slamming the door on us, Laczi, a veteran broadcast TV journalist during the Marcos years, cautioned his colleagues, especially the impatient Councilor Rolando Dabao, “not to be onion-skinned as they are only doing their job.” In face of imminent embarrassment and public censure after being severely assailed in media, Laczi could afford to show a soft spot for his former peers in the industry that made him a public icon.
Aside from Laczi, four other incumbent city councilors at that time were also former members of the Fourth Estate: the late Suzanne Pastrana (Laczi’s subordinate in IBC 12), the late Melchor Nava, Dr. Perla S. Zulueta (Laczi’s partner in the IBC 12 newscast), and Restituto “Agent Kurantay” Jotis.
Laczi and former city legal chief, Atty. Jose Junio Jacela, who was also city councilor at that time, asked my publisher Marcos Villalon, their colleague in the Lions Club, to invite me as member before his three terms in the city council expired in 2001.


Our colleague, Florence “Enciang” Hibionada, who visited Laczi in the hospital in Connecticut, USA two weeks earlier, broke the news of Laczi’s demise in Facebook: “Rest In Peace Boss. EAGLELOVE SIGNING OFF. A phrase that once meant he is done for the day is back again, yet this time telling us he is really done.
“Eduardo G. Laczi, the only man I call ‘Boss’ has passed on. After about two years of cancer battle, word came today that Boss is ‘gone.’ Tomorrow this world is one less good man whose life has amazingly touched and reached out to countless others.
“All battles need not be won. Sometimes, like this time, it is more than enough to have put up a good fight. And so I share this few words to all who care to read, asking for prayers that in this most difficult and hurting of time, the entire Laczi family be comforted. That his wife, Tita Fatima and children Sal, Don, Ian and Nina find strength. That those who had wronged him particularly the time he served the Iloilo City Government be sorry, and find in their hearts and conscience to pray hardest for forgiveness.
“Boss has made me the journalist that I am now, or at least the good journalist in me. He knew I was going to love being one even before I realize I could be one. For that and all that he is in my life, I am forever grateful. Rest In Peace Boss.”
According to veteran radioman and now US-based Leo Dumagat, Laczi made his official “sign off” at around 1:45 in the afternoon New York time last Oct. 27. Farewell, sir Ed. I’ll write a speech for you again in heaven. Fly and soar high, the Eagle!

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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


Brgy. Chairman Dr. Jekyll and Hyde

“Every reform movement has a lunatic fringe.”

By Alex P. Vidal

There was no neuro test required when candidates for barangay elections filed their certificates of candidacy, so we can’t expect that all winners in the October 28 elections are sane.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should be empowered to cancel or to declare as null and void the victory of any barangay official — chairman or councilman — found to be unfit mentally or with serious case of neurosis.
So many cases of insanity involving barangay officials have been recorded in the past. Instead of becoming an asset to the smallest political unit in the country, elected barangay officials with brain damage have become thorns and liabilities.
We remember one case in Iloilo City where a punong barangay or village chief missed a lot of opportunities to serve his constituents because he had to spend much of his time in the psychiatric ward of the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in the early 90s.


In one media gathering held at the RPTA Hall of the old Iloilo provincial capitol sometime in December 1992, a deranged village chief suddenly barged in and threatened to throw a grenade to the crowd inside. Broadcaster Sol Genson pacified the lunatic and convinced him to leave the premises. He listened to Sol, his drinking buddy at Virgo night club.
Earlier when the late Pres. Cory Aquino appointed Rosa “Tita” Caram as OIC city mayor in April 1986, another lunatic village chief asked the first lady mayor in Iloilo City to extend the route of Dinagyang tribes to Port San Pedro “so that people of Guimaras and Negros can watch the event.” Caram dismissed his “crazy” idea.
A village chief in Jaro district always brought a monkey in the barangay hall because “the monkey had helped me a lot when I won in the Who Wants to be a Millionaire show.” He accused a barangay councilman of poisoning the monkey, who died under a mysterious circumstance. The lunatic village chief wanted to bury the animal at Christ The King Cemetery and wanted to use barangay funds. “I oppose!” shouted the barangay councilman suspect who came to our office at Sun Star to report the “abuse of authority.”


Former Iloilo Gov. Sim Grino had to ask the help of provincial tourism officer Manny Benedicto to escort a disoriented village chief from Dumangas back from capitol to the lunatic’s municipality because he kept on addressing Gov. Grino as “Congressman Monfort” and refused to leave the governor’s office.
“Indi ako si Narsing (4th district Rep. Narciso Monfort). Si Sim ako. Gob Sim Grino kapila ka na gid hambalan (I am Gov. Sim Grino and I have already told you this repeatedly),” an irate Grino ribbed the village chief. “Lakat ta kap makadto ta kay Narsing (Come kapitan, we will go to Narsing),” Benedicto told the village chief.
This is the most common dilemma of people in the barangay. Because vote-buying is now rampant in the barangay level, it is easy to elect hoodlums and mentally deranged as officials.
If a punong barangay is not drug addict, he is a drug pusher. If he is not engaged in selling of drugs, he is engaged in illegal gambling and maintenance of prostitution dens–or in cahoots with operators of these illegal activities.
Or he is a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

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Posted by on October 29, 2013 in Uncategorized


God allowed ‘pork’ to teach us a lesson

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” ROMANS 1:18


by Alex P. Vidal

We cannot blame God for the acts of men. The “pork barrel” scandal is an act of man; therefore, God should have nothing to do with it.
But could God have prevented “pork barrel”? Either He wanted to stop it but could not, or He wanted to stop it but did not. Perhaps, God allowed “pork barrel” to unleash its wrath on the Filipino people to teach us a lesson as we have apparently become a nation of apathy, greed and neglect.
We neglected our fundamental duties and responsibilities to elect competent and honest leaders by selling our votes to the highest political bidders. We push these ruffians in government to steal by being in cahoots with them in age-old moral malady called patronage politics. We scratch their backs, they scratch ours. We fool each other.


We rely everything on politicians and oblige them to underwrite even petty domestic expenses that fall under our responsibilities as members of the working class. Because of our callousness, we created our own Frankensteins and call them “honorable” ladies and gentlemen.
We could see a strongly-worded pastoral letter that condemns the misuse of “pork barrel” in a giant billboard located on the left side when we enter the Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria or Jaro Cathedral in Jaro, Iloilo City.
The pastoral letter considers the misappropriation of “pork barrel” funds amounting to billions of pesos mostly by our lawmakers as “also a sin against God.”


The “pork barrel” fiasco is supposed to be an affair of the state and our constitution clearly prohibits the church from interfering in the affairs of the state vice versa.
But the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) believes that the separation of Church and State does not prohibit moral ethical values from influencing public policies.
If governance were conducted from a platform that disregards ethics and morality, CBCP says it only exposes our nation to greater peril and “we have only ourselves to blame and we make ourselves the victims of our own amoral conduct.”


We are actually partly to blame for the sins of thieves in government because their mandates emanate from us. Sin is a religious term and refers to man’s offense against God. It has no meaning apart from the awareness of God’s holiness and majesty. And since it is essentially not a legal or moral term, there is no sense of sin, no matter what a person may do or fail to do, if there is lacking in awareness.
We can always pray for Divine Intervention to abolish “pork barrel” like what the CBCP is doing when it spearheads the “Abolish the Pork Barrel, Now Na” movement, but we must not forget that we are part and parcel of the king-sized monster that has eaten up the moral fiber of our leaders; and God will help us only if we help our own selves first.

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Posted by on October 25, 2013 in Uncategorized


Pinoy nurses in grisly Chicago crimes

“Successful crimes alone are justified.” JOHN DRYDEN

By Alex P. Vidal

Crime stories in Chicago have always fascinated us. The recent cases of three Filipino nurses (one of them an Ilonggo from Oton, Iloilo) — two murder victims and one the alleged perpetrator of a sexual crime–in Chicago, Illinois, brought us back to the “crime of the century” that happened 47 years ago where two Filipina nurses were butchered beyond recognition by a drunken rapist.
A year after she was brutally murdered, police have not yet solved the murder of Virginia “Virgie” Perillo, 72, who worked as nurse for 40 years at the Rush University Medical Center. She was robbed before being killed in her garage in Brideport, Chicago.
Another Chicago resident, Juanario “John” Rosas, 51, was murdered in Pearland, Texas in September allegedly by his lover Courtney Grace King, 22; and Damien Lucas Salinas, 23, both of Houston.
Most recently, Dioscoro Flores, 39, a male nurse from Oton, Iloilo, was nabbed for sexual abuse of a paralyzed soldier at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
Flores’ alleged victim is a US war veteran who became quadriplegic and cannot speak following a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He was being held on a $50,000 bail.


Their cases actually paled in comparison to what happened to three Filipina exchange student nurses evening on July 13, 1966 inside a dormitory on 2319 East 100th Street (I regularly passed by this street on my way to the Union Station).
Corazon Pieza Amurao, 23, of San Luis, Batangas; Valentina P. Pasion, 24, of Jones, Isabela; and Merlita Ornedo Gargullo, 22, of Naujan, Mindoro were among the nine student nurses attacked by a lone assailant, Richard Franklin Speck, a drifter from Texas, inside the dormitory. Only Amurao survived.
Pamela Lee Wilkening, 22, of Lansing; and Nina Jo Schmale, 24, of Wheaton, both in Illinois were raped and killed. The others who suffered multiple stab wounds and strangulation were Patricia A. Matusek, 21, Mary Ann Jordan, 20, and Suzanne Bridget Farris, 21, all of Chicago; and Gloria J. Davy, 22, of Dyer, Indiana.
According to US-based Fil-Am journalist Joseph Lariosa, who interviewed Jack G. Wallenda, the first Chicago police homicide detective to arrive at the crime scene, the incident chipped away at the conventional wisdom of accommodating an armed intruder instead of putting up a resistance to survive. Amurao and Gargullo tried to loosen their hands and Amurao whispered to others that when she freed herself, she could pick up a steel bunk ladder and hit the man with it. They could have leaped on him and overpowered him.
Lariosa said they could have done this when Speck was stripping the bed sheets to use them to tie their hands and ankles as he laid his gun aside. But the rest told them to keep still as they accommodated Speck’s demand to give him $38 as he was heading to New Orleans.


Although a sneeze away from getting detected, Lariosa said two things that saved Amurao’s life were her foresight and her pure luck when Speck lost count. As Speck took Gargullo out of the bunk bed from the room and stabbed and killed her in another room as he had done with the rest, leaving Davy on top of the bunk bed and Amurao under the bunk bed, Amurao summoned all her strength to wiggle herself towards the bunk bed earlier occupied by Gargullo. So that when Speck returned to look at Amurao’s previous location and saw it empty, Speck thought that Davy was the last in the room. She then climbed out of the bedroom window onto a ledge and screamed that her friends were all dead.
The next day, Amurao fled a scene of such great carnage that it made veteran cops and police reporters vomit.
Detectives would find Davy dead on the sofa, naked and sexually assaulted. Upstairs, Wilkening had been gagged and stabbed through the heart. Farris was in a pool of blood, having been strangled with her own stockings and stabbed 18 times. Jordan was stabbed three times. Schmale was stabbed in a pattern around her broken neck. Paison’s throat had been cut. Gargullo had been stabbed and strangled. Matusek was also strangled. The women had been so disfigured that the director of nurses was able to recognize only 3 of them.
According to Amurao, Speck, armed, had forced entry into the dormitory and tied up the women. She hid under a bed, forced to listen as he raped, beat, and killed each of her friends. His was an easy conviction, and Speck died in prison when suffered a heart attack in 1991.


The case also demonstrated that individual rights take precedence over diplomatic niceties, added Lariosa. As the Philippine Consul General Generoso Provido in Chicago at the time wanted to provide legal assistance to Amurao, the young nurse diplomatically declined the offer after getting wind of the scheme that the Filipino American lawyer being recommended by Provido was more interested in getting a slice from money generated from rights to her story than protecting her legal rights.
In a curt statement, Amurao issued the following statement: “It is my desire to make it clear that the memory of dear colleagues is of such character that I do not want to have it tainted by the acceptance by me of money or other personal benefit.”
Aside from getting $5,000 out of the $10,000 reward money offered by the South Chicago Community Hospital leading to the solution of the case, Amurao has stuck by her word, resisting bids for her to sell her rights to her horrifying experience.

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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


Sue based on evidence, not on rivalry and hatred

“Look around. There are no enemies here. There’s just good, old-fashioned rivalry.” BOB WELLS

By Alex P. Vidal

The acts of indiscriminately filing plunder and graft cases against incumbent public officials by losing candidates and frustrated politicians has become a fad nowadays.
Incumbent government officials who are recipients of these suits cry political harassment because the cases were filed either by their political rivals or supporters of their rivals in the most recent elections.
It is always easy for the accused to dismiss the actions of their accusers as “desperate” acts of vendetta and sour-gaping because the public is more inclined to believe this type of defense mechanism. Nobody loves a loser. Victory, as the saying goes, has many fathers and defeat is an orphan.


The most recent congressional and local elections happened just four months ago and the scorching and bitter exchange of words between warring parties during the campaign period is still fresh in the memory of the constituents.
When a combatant falls in a close contest, it is usually the crestfallen who makes alibis and shouts highway robbery.
So even if the cases filed in the Office of the Ombudsman against Senate President Frank Drilon, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, and Iloilo City Rep. Jerry P. Trenas appeared to be slambang and meritorious, they would still be tainted by an iota of doubt, suspicion and pessimism.
If the cases weren’t filed by former TESDA chief Augusto “Buboy” Syjuco (against Drilon) and former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. (against Mabilog and Trenas) but by ordinary citizens with no known ax to grind, people would think that Drilon, Mabilog, and Trenas were really crooks and embezzlers.


We are not preempting the investigation being conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman here. Drilon, Mabilog, and Trenas might be found guilty or not guilty. If Syjuco, Gonzalez, and former Provincial Administrator Manuel “Boy M” Mejorada (against Drilon) have loaded guns and indisputable pieces of evidence, they could hack out a grand slam.
If they slapped the three highest Ilonggo public officials with Ombudsman cases only because they wanted to get even for the drubbing (except for Mejorada) they got in the May 13 polls, the cases might nosedive and won’t merit any public outcry.
Public support or opinion, however, cannot convict or acquit the accused. It’s the weight of evidence that will do all the talking during the investigation, not whether the accused are popular and “more credible in the eyes of public”; not whether Drilon, Mabilog, and Trenas are the lesser evils.
It is best that the accuser goes to court with clean hands in particular, and file the cases based on strong evidence in general–not based on past political conflict and degree of hatred for someone who inflicted the accuser a swashbuckling electoral defeat his ego and conscience cannot accept.

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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in Uncategorized


Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

“Luzviminda, wake up. Don’t lose your mind.” FREDDIE AGUILAR in “Luzviminda” song

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By Alex P. Vidal

Several months after the looting of our natural treasury via “pork barrel” scam was exposed, the gangsters and hoodlums in the SIN-nate and House of Representa-THIEVES have not been placed behind bars despite the formal filing of plunder cases against them by the Department of Justice before the Office of the Ombudsman.
Chances are, many of them will even manage to get off the hook and continue to laugh their way to the banks– given the apparent squalid and rotten type of justice system we are having in this country.
They have already stolen billions of pesos of taxpayers money and built mansions left and right; deposited wads of cash using fictitious names if not dummies in different banks here and abroad; collected mistresses like they gathered souvenir items; acquired jewelry and fleet of expensive cars; and amassed mind-boggling wealth at the expense of ordinary laborers and other low-paying hand-to-mouth workers who break their bones and risk their lives to eke out a decent living, but continue to wallow in abject poverty.


They are still scot-free; some of them even appear on radio and TV talk shows laughing and giggling as if they have attained the status of rock star celebrities. They continue to make junkets abroad as if they are pristine and immaculate statesmen. Thieves and idiots in coat and tie representing the Philippines in conventions and shaking hands in photo-ops with state leaders from all over the world.
No arrest means no justice served. Justice delayed is justice denied. When justice is on death throes, democracy will die. A dead democracy means a decaying society.
A mass of silent but angry majority is getting impatient. Their disgust is slowly developing into a lava that threatens to overflow and cascade; a social volcano itching to erupt at any given time. Bastille circa 2014?
“Bread, more bread, and not so many words” was the battlecry of Paris women while heckling the National Assembly before the French Revolution.


In social media, gatherings of opinion makers and kibitzers, barber shops, coffee shops and student fora, emotions flare up; people cannot countenance the brazenness and blatant display of arrogance and insensitivity of crooks in government who continue to commit pillage notwithstanding the public flak and uproar hammered out by the non-stop anti-“pork barrel” publicity.
Even ordinary people in the streets are belting out this philosophical question: “Can you hear the drums, Fernando?”
Drums goading citizens to wake up and hear the sirens of mass movement; to rise up against tyrants and hooligans holding key and powerful positions in the Kingdom of Pork Barrel.


ABBA sank a deep message in the heart in a song:
“Can you hear the drums Fernando?
Do you still recall the frightful night we crossed the Rio Grande?
I can see it in your eyes. How proud you were to fight for freedom in this land.
There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
Though I never thought that we could lose
There’s no regret
If I had to do the same again
I would, my friend, Fernando.”

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Posted by on October 22, 2013 in Uncategorized